The shutdown, the political motivations behind it, and the role of the American press

I know we discussed the true cause of the government shutdown a few days ago, but, as I suspect there are still a few of you out there who don’t know what’s really going on, I thought that I should share this video by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, filmed on the floor of the Senate just as the shutdown was going into effect on Monday evening. I know that I already shared a link to it in my “treason” post, but, as it’s still the best piece of video that I’ve seen, as relates to this current nonsense that we’re living through, I thought that I should embed it up here, on the front page. First, though, here’s a clip from an Al Jazeera article which explains why it is that so many Americans still don’t realize what’s going on. (SPOILER ALERT: It’s the American press.)

U.S. news reports are largely blaming the government shutdown on the inability of both political parties to come to terms. It is supposedly the result of a “bitterly divided” Congress that “failed to reach agreement” (Washington Post) or “a bitter budget standoff” left unresolved by “rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers” (New York Times). This sort of false equivalence is not just a failure of journalism. It is also a failure of democracy.

When the political leadership of this country is incapable of even keeping the government open, a political course correction is in order. But how can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable?

The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.” (Thank you, Guardian.)

And holding the entire government hostage while demanding the de facto repeal of a president’s signature legislation and not even bothering to negotiate is by any reasonable standard an extreme political act. It is an attempt to make an end run around the normal legislative process. There is no historical precedent for it…

And, here, for those of you who didn’t follow the link the last time I shared it, is that footage of Elizabeth Warren on the floor of the Senate.

[On a side note, I can’t wait to cast my ballot for her in a Presidential race one day.]

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  1. anonymous
    Posted October 5, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Ask Robert Kennedy and Paul Welstone how it worked out for them.

  2. Demetrius
    Posted October 5, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    The increasing concentration of wealth among the top 1%, aided and abetted by factors such as the Citizens United ruling, means that more and more of our politicians are nothing more than paid lobbyists who just happen to also have Congressional voting privileges.

    Likewise, what was once an active — and often adversarial — press has largely been replaced by a fleet of well-paid, well-connected Washington/Wall Street lapdogs whose major occupation is parroting talking points that reinforce the worldviews of those in power.

    That said, would it be sacrilegious to suggest that perhaps the general public — and especially the voters — are also somewhat to blame? After all, with notable (and grateful!) exceptions — such as with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, etc. — most voters seem to keep falling for the same old D vs. R, Liberal vs. Conservative “Punch and Judy” show over and over again … meanwhile day-to-day conditions for the majority of Americans continue to deteriorate, and the basic functioning of the Government (including the ability to pay its bills) continues to teeter on the edge of disaster.

  3. TLCo
    Posted October 6, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    We all deserve blame for not having fought hard enough before. We just assumed that things would work out and that tragedy would be avoided yet again.

  4. Posted October 6, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    This is all prelude to the really big issue, which is global warming. As bad as the Tea Party has been for our democracy, we can, assuming we have the will do so, do something about it. It just requires that more men and women in power, on both sides of the aisle, stop being so damned afraid, stand up to them, and speak the truth. With global warming, though, I’m afraid that we may have already missed our window. And that’s the really terrifying thing. Watching all of this insanity play out now is bad enough, but knowing that it could get exponentially worse, as our oceans rise, crops wither, forests burn, storms destroy entire communities, and fresh water supplies dry up, is one hundred times worse. This, I’m afraid, is just a small glimpse of what the future holds for us, as people are confronted by the notion that, in order to survive, we’re going to need to drastically change the way we live.

  5. Demetrius
    Posted October 6, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Effectively confronting global climate change would be an almost insurmountable challenge — even if we had a government that was relatively effective and forward-looking.

    But considering the anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-reason/reality bias exhibited by so many current members of Congress — along with the enormous influence exercised by the oil, coal, natural gas, automobile and highway lobbies, etc., it is hard to imagine we will find the will to address this issue in an effective — and timely — way.

  6. Posted October 6, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Agreed. And that’s what I keep coming back to. No matter how crazy things seem now, it’s just the tip of the (aggressively melting) iceberg.

  7. Oliva
    Posted October 7, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    It’s going to be seriously heavy lifting to fix the redistricting monstrosity. But we have to. Which means get rid of Snyder & the knuckleheads he’s allied with, in Fla. get rid of Scott, and so on, and so on. Oh my gosh, North Carolina is a mess. And that’s just one portion of the heavy lifting that needs doing. I wish FOX News (execs and viewers!) and Limbaugh could be charged with treason (and willful stupidity and attempts to spread it). Well, I wish something . . . it is just so depressing. But a bright spot, as Mark mentions at the tail-end: one day we might just get to vote for Elizabeth Warren and hep make her our president. Wow, one sincerely encouraging thought.

  8. Demetrius
    Posted October 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    @ Olivia. I absolutely agree. A Warren candidacy could really generate a lot of excitement and enthusiasm … along with many opportunities to put the spotlight on corporate accountability, income inequality, etc. I hope she will consider running!

  9. anonymous
    Posted October 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    It all hinges on her relationship with Hillary. I don’t recall Hillary campaigning for Warren, but if there’s a history she may not want to run against her. And I can’t see Warren running for VP as Hillary will likely need a male military type. Maybe Warren could be Labor Secretary. I think she’s probably better in the Senate though.

  10. maryd
    Posted October 8, 2013 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    I love the idea of a Warren shot at the presidency but IMO we need her far more in the Senate.

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